Chapterone

Disclaimer: Most of the characters in this story are from "The Mummy" or "The Mummy Returns" and are obviously therefore not mine. The characters of Caitlin and Elayne, however, are mine.

During "The Mummy Returns"

Ardeth Bay glared out at the approaching sea of warriors. His arms and body ached, and small cuts all over him stung. As yet he had not been wounded seriously, but he was sure that it would only be a matter of time. He had already fought more warriors of Anubis than he cared to remember, and although the first wave had been defeated, he was certain that the second wave would kill them all.

"If I survive, I'll have a lot more scars to show for it"

He frowned as the stray thought drifted across his mind, then as a distant memory followed it, he seemed to see a different scene in front of him:

Lanterns lit the tent with a gentle golden glow, and the air was still and silent. He lay on his back, staring upwards, while she lay on her side, dark hair slipping down one side of her face.

"So many scars" she murmured, her hands tracing the marks on his chest. He caught her hand and brought it to his lips. "I am a warrior, my lady".

Her laughter echoed around the walls. "I love the way you call me that. I love the way that you treat me as if I am someone special".

"You are special, my lady". My wife, my love, my life. He stared up at her, captivated by her dark blue eyes, by the contrast between her pale skin and dark hair. He shifted up, and kissed her gently.

"I love you, my warrior" she whispered, laughter mingling with affection. She snuggled her head into the crook of his arm, forcing him to lie down again. Her eyes fluttered closed, and soon her breathing deepened. He lay there, watching her as she slept…

And I love you, my lady. But even if I return with more scars, you are no longer there to marvel over them. He focused once more on the coming warriors and his glare grew darker as he prepared for death.

Later, after the film

He half jumped, half slipped from his saddle. Around him, men shouted, women laughed or cried, and people asked him questions. He answered them half-heartedly, seeking a small tent that he knew would be in the camp. He caught sight of it, and moved steadily towards it, now ignoring the voices of those around. No one took offence, and smiled instead, recognising where his attention lay.

Outside the tent, the women who looked after his daughter in place of her mother caught his arm. "She went to bed hours ago. By now she will be well asleep".

He fixed her with a dark glare. "I will not wake her. I want to see her, it has been too long…" The woman stumbled back from his glare. More than ever, he wished that Elayne was still with him. She alone had recognised that glaring was just his way of making people do what he wanted, not a sign of his anger. He had never been angry with her, and she could laugh him out of his darker moods.

The women handed him a lit lantern, then fled. He sighed, then opened the doorway and stepped inside. Once in, he stopped, scowling at his young daughter, who sat cross-legged on her sleeping mat. "I was told you would be asleep".

"How could I sleep before you returned?" she asked softly, looking up at him.

He tried to maintain his scowl, but it shifted into an amused smile, and he dropped to his knees beside her. "Ah, little Cail, I've missed you so much". He reached out, and brushed a loose strand of hair off her forehead. Despite plaiting it back, her hair never seemed to stay tidy, or in place. He moved off his knees and sat down next to her. For a long moment, he just looked at her. With the memory of Elayne still fresh in his mind, it caught his heart to see how much like her his daughter was. Although her eyes were smoky grey, and her hair was curly, not straight and fine, the shape of her face, and her features, were the same.

Caitlin stirred slightly. "Is the creature dead?" she asked, her tone thoughtful, rather than concerned. His frown returned. "You should not speak, or think, of things such as that" he chided gently. "It is the task of the Med-jai to deal with such threats, and they do not concern you".

"And only men can be Med-jai" she said softly. He nodded approval, that she had finally learnt what he had been forced to repeat so often, and she looked down and away, so he missed the flash of anger that was briefly in her eyes. "Still" she continued, "Is he?". Tempted for a second to lecture her, he was reminded of Elayne's nature, always looking for an answer to her questions, however inappropriate. She had never acted as a woman of the desert should. However, she had not been born and raised in the desert, but Caitlin had.

He sighed, then finally decided to reply "Although I did not see the creatures death, I believe that he was killed". Caitlin nodded, and drew breath as if about to speak, then hesitated. Instead she stood up, and gently took her father's chin in her hand. "You are wounded".He smiled at her serious tone, then shook his head. "It is nothing, little one". He took her hand in his own, then stood up. "You should sleep now".

"Will you tell me more in the morning?" Caitlin asked, her eyes fixed on her father's face. He scowled, and repeated "Sleep". He could plainly see the mixture of emotions on her face, but then she nodded obediently, and lay down on her mat. Looking down on her his affection overwhelmed his momentary feeling of exasperation, and he sat back down beside her. She smiled, then shut her eyes. For a long time Ardeth Bay sat watching his sleeping daughter as the lamplight grew dimmer.

"What am I going to do with you?" he whispered. She had too much of Elayne's stubborn nature, and she also reminded him of Evelyn, another stubborn, brave woman. He smiled in the gloom, remembering. Would he have been so attracted to Elayne, had she been as meek as the other women he had known? Finally he stood, wincing from the pain of his recently battered body, and left the tent.